Milano-Tokyo Dialogue Over Hikikomori  
Round 6 “Internet Addiction?”

(Photo: Veneto, Milano (Pixabay) / Tokyo International Forum (Geomedian) / Retouched by Vosot Ikeida)

Profile of Speakers

Marco Crepaldi
A young socio-psychologist in Milan, Italy. Founded the web site “Hikikomori Italia” to respond to the increase of hikikomori in Italy, presiding liaison meetings of about 170 families. Refer to his article “What hikikomori is and what Isn’t” which was translated also in Japanese and raised big reactions.

Vosot Ikeida
A middle-aged hikikomori in Tokyo, Japan. Has been a hikikomori intermittently for over 30 years. Refer to his career “Hikikomori Horoki (Odyssey of Hikikomori)“ (Japanese). What he speaks out here is his personal opinion and nothing to represent the Hikikomori News.

Continued from Round 5

Unfortunately, Italian media confuses hikikomori with internet addiction. (At the moment of June 2017)
A lot of people argue that if you unplug the personal computer, then the hikikomori will leave the room spontaneously.
That’s totally untrue.

Is it the same in Japan?

I don’t think there is any media which “confuses” hikikomori with internet addiction in Japan, but a lot of Japanese media and people have the prejudicial image of hikikomori, such as “A hikikomori is a male in his 20-30s, shutting himself in a room which is located at the deepest side of the second floor of the house that his parents built after a mountain of efforts, and in the room he is watching anime, using internet, and playing online games all night and day, and his mother brings his meal up to the outside of the room he is doing hikikomori”.

A hikikomori described in a tacky TV drama has been always like that so far.

Why do you think such a prototype of prejudicial image was given to a hikikomori?

Probably that was the first pattern of hikikomori to have been dug out on the surface of society around 2000, so everybody started to think “THAT is a hikikomori.”

In fact, that’s not true at all.
For example, I started to be a hikikomori after my life got independent from my parents’ house. The place I started to shut myself in was a dormitory room of my university, not one of my parents’ house.

In those days you started to be a hikikomori, there was no internet yet, is there?

No. I am a walking evidence to testify that a hikikomori doesn’t start from internet addiction.

Today, it may be true that hikikomori and internet have high affinity, but as I have written in my article, I think the reason in this way; It is only the result of needs for hikikomoris to interact with the outside that they use the internet a lot.


Yes, you’re right. And also it’s affected with the character of generation. Compared with myself in 50’s, young people need the internet more. For them it is something like a necessities of life, whether hikikomori or not.
As a matter of fact, I know one female hikikomori who says, “I never like the internet, because I see people be active in the society on every web page. I feel it blaming me because I am inactive.”
It tells it’s not internet addiction that creates a hikikomori as well.

Now you have the communication pipe with us in Japan, but have you got ones with hikikomori networks in other countries, such as France or Spain?

Unfortunately not, but from the insights of my website, I can see that there are a lot of viewers from those countries, especially Spain.

Some specialists in Japan predict that, in Europe, the south has more hikikomoris, and the north has less, because the psychological distance between mother and child is closer in the south, and on the northern side of Europe, “self” of a child is established from an earlier age.
Since we have no appropriate statistical result at the moment, so this is just a hypothesis, but what do you think of this?

I agree with the hypothesis. Spain and Italy seem to be the two most affected countries in Europe with the hikikomori problem, also – but not exclusively – for the reason that you have mentioned there.
In my opinion, South Europa and North America are the two most affected areas in the West.

To be continued to Round 7

To the Japanese Version of Round 6